When Hayze Chilson heard an incoming freshman make a disturbing comment about a school shooting at orientation, he faced a dilemma.
Turn the kid in and possibly get him arrested, even if he was just joking.
Or say nothing and possibly let a shooting occur.
Chilson tackled that issue in a essay that recently won him a scholarship.
The Better Business Bureau Serving the Pacific Southwest (BBB) awarded five scholarships to high school students for their winning essays on “The Importance of Character and Ethics.”
Hayze Chilson, of Payson, took fourth place and a $750 scholarship for an essay on how he handled an ethical dilemma he faced while working as a freshman adviser.
Held annually, the contest encourages students to write an essay about doing the right thing when they face an ethical dilemma. Swiss America and Kiwanis Club sponsored this year’s scholarships.
“We chose to support BBB’s Ethical Torch Essay Scholarship because we are united in our belief that doing the right thing is always the right thing to do,” said Bronwin Barilla, Swiss America vice president and treasurer.
2020 Ethical Torch Essay
Scholarship Winners:• First Place, $1500: Aidan Lin from Brophy College Preparatory in Phoenix
• Second Place, $1250: Nicole Achback from Estrella Foothills High School in Goodyear
• Third Place, $1000: Caitlin Campos from Shadow Mountain High School in Phoenix
• Fourth Place, $750: Hayze Chilson from Payson High School in Payson
• Fifth Place, $500: Nevaeh Livingston from Maricopa High School in Maricopa
First place winner Aidan Lin, was confronted with a decision when a text message from a friend urged him to view an illegal version of a movie. He prevailed and didn’t take the bait.
“My instincts told me that this wasn’t right. I missed a chance to watch a new movie for free, but I felt virtuous as I did my part to say no to digital piracy,” said Lin.Read all the winning submissions at torchessay.bbbcommunity.org. Next year’s applications open on Jan. 1 for high school students in graduating classes of 2022-2025.
An ethical dilemma
The summer before my junior year, I was a member of Link Crew, which is a club on campus that helps freshmen with the transition to high school. One of the best parts of being a member of Link Crew is that I help run freshman orientation, which allows the opportunity to introduce myself and develop a rapport with the students I will be helping throughout the year.
At the beginning of orientation, we were playing an icebreaker game and I was paired up with a student who I had previously known. I had been the teacher’s assistant for his math class in eighth grade and I remembered him as being quirky and quiet, but overall just a normal kid. Per the icebreaker, the question was asked, “What are you looking forward to this year?” and his response alluded to the idea that he was looking forward to a shooting at school. In that moment, I was in shock and at a loss with how to respond. I turned around without saying a word and waited for the game to move on so that I could be paired with a different student.
After orientation, I processed what had happened and realized the ethical dilemma I faced. On the one hand, I believed that what was said was a bad joke and an honest cry for help from someone who was being treated like an outcast by his peers. On the other hand, if he was planning something like what he had alluded to, I would be responsible for the deaths of my teachers and peers. I mulled over the dilemma for a couple of days, struggling with the fact that I could potentially ruin this kid’s life if he was joking around or be responsible for the deaths of my community members if he was not. As I contemplated, the tragedy in El Paso, Texas, occurred. Witnessing the horrors, tragedy, and heartbreak on television made me realize that the only ethical choice would be to tell an authority figure. The next day, I went to school and told administration, who involved law enforcement, conducted an investigation, and concluded that he was in all likelihood joking. Afterward, as I reflected on the situation, I realized that while I was correct in my assumption that it was a cry for help, coming forward was the only ethical conclusion.